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Gonzales attacks domestic surveillance critics

[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] attacked critics of President Bush's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive; US DOJ fact sheet, PDF] in a speech [transcript] at the Air Force Academy Saturday, saying their views are "shortsighted." Critics of the program, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], argue that the program violates both the First and Fourth Amendment because it operates without judicial oversight [ACLU press release]. In Saturday's speech, Gonzales said that a definition of freedom that did not allow for the program is "a grave threat to the liberty and security of the American people." AP has more.

Gonzales' remarks come three months after US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that the program is unconstitutional because it violates free speech and privacy rights. The Bush administration has appealed the decision. Last month, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] ruled [text, PDF; JURIST report] that the program could continue to operate pending the appeal process. In a Friday address [JURIST report] to the national convention of the Federalist Society, Vice President Cheney slammed [text] the August ruling as "an indefensible act of judicial overreaching." Earlier this month, President Bush urged lawmakers [JURIST report] to pass White House-supported legislation that would clarify the legality of the program; last week outgoing Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter introduced a limited bill [JURIST report] to authorize domestic surveillance in a final bid to get a supportive measure passed before the new Congress begins in January.

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